20 Feb 2017

Richard McNamara: Flare ups expected but communities out of danger

From Morning Report, 7:10 am on 20 February 2017

The principal rural fire officer, Richard McNamara says 150 firefighters will be back out fighting the Port Hills blaze today.

Fire crews in the Port Hills, Christchurch.

Fire crews in the Port Hills, Christchurch. Photo: RNZ / Emile Donovan

He says they will be digging up the hot spots, hosing them down and creating fire breaks to separate communities at risk from the fire.

He says 15 aircraft will also be involved today and his crews are ensuring the fire is extinguished around the edges to create a firebreak and protect communities.

Mr McNamara says the fire is currently under control and they are committed to the community.

"We are going to make sure that it is completely under control before we downscale."

He says they will be watching changes in the weather, which are expected over the coming days, and although further flare ups are expected they are not expected to be a danger to communities.

Mr McNamara says the fighting the fire is complex and the work is tough.

"We're having to deal with loss of homes, and unfortunately the loss of one of our own. There is a lot of raw emotion out there that our crews are facing every day."

Some fire-affected residents have been told it will be three of four days before they are allowed back to their homes.

Residents of Worsleys Road, Hoon Hay Valley Road and Kennedys Bush Road were allowed back into their homes briefly yesterday, to gather possessions.

Yesterday they met with emergency authorities and the mayor Lianne Dalziel, who promised to provide hourly updates.

But Rory Creagh, who's has been out of his Kennedy's Bush home since Wednesday, says the information he's getting is completely useless.

He says they are getting no specific information

The Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has taken responsibility for the communication breakdown. She says she owes Mr Creagh an apology.